Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance

Foodware Aware LogoOn February 1, 2021, the City of San Mateo adopted a Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance (Ordinance) that mirrors the County of San Mateo’s (County) Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance. This Ordinance aims to regulate and reduce the amount of plastic disposable foodware that is used and distributed in the City of San Mateo and to encourage the use of reusable alternatives. The County's Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the City, is leading education and enforcement of the Ordinance.

The objectives of the Ordinance are to:

  • Reduce waste by eliminating disposable foodware that is not reusable or compostable;
  • Improve the health and safety of community members; and
  • Help keep our waterways clean and safe.

Who will this impact?

This Ordinance will apply to restaurants, mobile food trucks, temporary food facilities (e.g., street fairs, festivals, etc.), farmers’ markets, catering operations, private schools, and other operations that operate within the City of San Mateo and provide prepared food (a.k.a. ready-to-eat food and beverages) to the general public.

 Key elements of the Ordinance include requiring:

  1. Most disposable foodware to be non-plastic, fiber-based, and compostable;
  2. Larger disposable foodware items such as bowls, plates, and clamshells to have little/no harmful fluorinated chemicals; and
  3. The distribution of disposable foodware accessories should be upon request only, at self-serve areas, and/or when a consumer accepts an offer by the food operator.

Resources Available to Impacted Food Facilities

FAQs, a purchasing guide for acceptable disposable items, outreach materials (e.g., tent cards, employee guide, etc.), and other resources for food facilities are available at the County of San Mateo’s Foodware Aware Program website.  

Free technical assistance is available for food facilities to help meet the requirements of the Ordinance as well as go beyond the requirements and switch to reusable foodware. Up to $300 is available for food facilities who are interested in switching from disposable to reusable foodware!

Please contact the Foodware Aware Team for additional information: